A Balanced Diet is Key to Good Health
The American Heart Association (AHA) recently published updated dietary guidance for improving heart health. This made us pause to think about how and why we choose the foods we do. Are our food choices built around our lifestyle habits? Or what reinforces our dietary patterns? We reflected on choosing better dietary patterns and what those would look like. Follow along as we share the benefits of nutritious meals and how food consumption affects your health—particularly your heart. The benefits of sticking to a heart healthy dietary pattern also might benefit you in other ways:
Other Great Nutrients!
The foods listed in the AHA guidance are not only heart healthy foods. They have other benefits as well. For example, fruits, vegetables, and other foods on the list together create a diet that is high in fiber. Fiber has been found to not only lower heart disease, but it is also highly beneficial to digestion. Likewise, eating these foods fulfill essential nutrient requirements for most individuals without ever taking a vitamin. Research also suggests that our bodies receive the nutrients better from food or drink rather than from supplements.
Reduced Risk of Other Chronic Conditions
Added nutrients are not the only benefit people receive when they stick to the AHA guidelines. Did you know that researchers recently concluded that the highest-quality diet scores were associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality? That means if you are eating right, you are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, or neurodegenerative diseases. High-quality dietary patterns might just save your life!
For those suffering from diabetes, changing your dietary pattern does not only change your heart health, but it is also attributed to lower body mass index and reduced insulin resistance and inflammation. Heart-healthy foods and dietary patterns are also known to promote kidney health. Did you know you could check so many health boxes with food?
Low Environmental Impact
Beyond staying healthy ourselves, choosing healthy eating patterns can also have an impact on the environment. Animal products, particularly red meat, play a significant role in human-generated, greenhouse gas emissions, and water and land usage. If Americans reduce the amount of meat they eat, they may also build more sustainable dietary patterns as a country and lower the carbon footprint created by food production. Many of the dietary patterns included in the AHA guidelines are both heart healthy and are associated with a smaller environmental impact than the average US diet.
Your health is more than just your heart. And it is easy to see there are dozens of good reasons to consider following the AHA guidelines for dietary patterns. So, what’s keeping you from a heart healthy diet? Maybe it is lifestyle habits as we discussed before, but there could also be elements out of your control that influence what you can eat. Join us next week to talk more about challenges to sticking to a heart healthy dietary pattern.